It was an intense back and forth affair, one that has been all too familiar with this Florida Panthers team this season and although the loss delayed the Hurricanes’ chance to clinch a third straight playoff appearance, the extra point now just leaves them one away from securing it.
Right away, this game was set to be harder than potentially the rest of the series as the Canes entered the match down two more guys as both Jordan Martinook and Jesper Fast were out with lower-body injuries, joining the growing list of injured Hurricanes alongside Teuvo Teravainen, Brock McGinn, Brady Skjei and Petr Mrazek.
But Carolina sure does love a challenge and before the game was even five minutes old, the Canes led by one.
Dougie Hamilton registered his seventh goal of the year with a quick release from the point that took a fortuitous double bounce off of two Panthers skaters and finished bar down and in.
Doogie goal!— Canes Country (@CanesCountry) April 24, 2021
Hamilton's 7th of the year gives the Hurricanes a 1-0 lead in Florida. pic.twitter.com/LsVlwa4mWn
The Canes controlled play throughout the first period, but a rare, albeit slight, hesitation by Brett Pesce, with less than 30 seconds in the period remaining, led to Florida finding the equalizer off a MacKenzie Weegar slapshot.
However, the Canes got right back on it shortly after both teams got back out onto the ice for the second. It was Dougie Hamilton yet again scoring an early period tally and this time for his eighth of the season.
On the power play, the Canes won the initial faceoff, and went to a set play where they cycled the puck through four players around the offensive zone and finally back to Hamilton at the point for the shot.
He did it to 'em again— Canes Country (@CanesCountry) April 25, 2021
Dougie Hamilton's second goal of the night gives the Hurricanes a 2-1 lead in Florida! pic.twitter.com/LDSR8pWhgt
Quick starts were the name of the game for the Canes as the team scored in the first four minutes of each period and at the start of the third it was Andrei Svechnikov getting the goal.
Or more so getting credit for the goal as all he had to do was stand there and let Brett Pesce bank it in off his skate.
Jake Gardiner put the puck in Brett Pesce's wheelhouse, and his shot winds up in the back of the net. There was traffic in front, including Andrei Svechnikov.— Canes Country (@CanesCountry) April 25, 2021
The Hurricanes have a 3-1 lead in Florida. pic.twitter.com/3migH1zySW
But the Panthers are a fast and skilled team who don’t go away and after only a few minutes following the Svechnikov goal the Panthers got back into the game on a Gustav Forsling shot that barely slipped by Alex Nedeljkovic.
It was a lapse in defensive coverage and a game that seemed ready to start to be put away was blown back open.
And even when it seemed that Carolina was going to get some breathing room after the team was awarded a power play shortly after Forsling’s score, it certainly didn’t happen.
Florida took the action to the Canes despite being down a man. Nedeljkovic came up huge on an initial shorthanded flurry, but the Panthers recollected and stormed back into the offensive zone and finally broke through to tie the game at three.
After that, it seemed like Carolina was just trying to hold on as the team was outshot 13-6 in the third period but Nedeljkovic battled to keep his team in the game and at least take it to overtime.
But that’s as far as it went as Aleksander Barkov put his team on his back, transitioned the puck through all three zones and took the shot sneaking the puck through Nedeljkovic and ending overtime about as fast as it started.
The Canes will continue their road trip as they head to Dallas for a two-game series with the Stars beginning Monday at 7:30 p.m.